Musician and director Rob Zombie’s new film '31' exclusively hits Shudder, the subscription service for horror lovers, on December 15. In this clip, he talks about the movie with Shudder curator Sam Zimmerman; while Zimmerman tells NME all about the screaming – sorry, streaming – service.
Launched a year and a half ago in the USA but hitting the UK around Halloween 2016, Shudder is the online streaming service that specialises in horror films and TV – the nasty Netflix, if you will. Its curators group films in themed collections, meaning if your tastes are as specific as medical horror, alt-vampires, zombies or good old fashioned Satanism, you’re only a couple of clicks from an appetising fix. Serving lovers of artsy Italian Giallo as much as slasher fans, Shudder takes horror seriously, but not too seriously.
On December 15, it will premiere the new movie from metaller-turned-director Rob Zombie, 31 (the name of the film, not his age), and you can see Mr Zombie talking about that film in the exclusive clip above. In the meantime, Shudder’s co-curator, Sam Zimmerman – also in the video – tells NME why we can expect more super-specific streaming services to follow in Shudder’s wake.
Where did the idea for Shudder come from?
Sam Zimmerman: “Really from just noticing that there was space to play in something like subscription streaming. If you are into something specific like horror, which I think inspires a lot of devotion and admiration, it’s almost like a scholarly pursuit because you are watching so much all the time”
Are you a ‘horror scholar’ yourself, then?
“I’m a horror nut. If you told the teenage me that watching horror films was a job someone could do, my head would have split.”
You must find yourself watching an inordinate amount of horror films. Has this had any psychological impact on you on a day-to-day basis?
“You know, I’m sure it has. I’m sure I’m not aware enough of what the psychological implications might be, but at the same time, I’m still scared of the things I’m scared of. I get really, really caught up in psychosis, self-spiral, going-insane-type movies, and I think every time I watch one, if its really good, it still gets under my skin.”
Do you think over the next few years we’ll see these kind of genre-specific streaming services set up for comedy fans or action fans and so on?
“Totally, I think comedy is a very specific thing that you can be casual about or very devoted to, like horror. In the same way, I would never want people to only feel like Shudder is for them if they consider themselves a horror die-hard – because I don’t think we are being exclusionary. Horror and comedy are both such an emotion. If someone recommends you something you’ve never seen but that fulfils what horror and comedy are supposed to do to you, that’s such a great joy.
Netflix and Amazon have broken ground in making amazing TV programs; do you have plans to become producers too?
“Totally, I guess what I can say about original productions is sort of, ‘watch this space’. We have our own exclusives right now, like Beyond the Wall, which is an incredible French mini series, a stunning haunted house tale about a woman who inherits a house and finds a sort of parallel existence within it.”
If someone gets a Shudder account, what should they watch first?
“It depends on who’s asking; if you’re a horror nut, I would point you towards Pin: A Plastic Nightmare, which is a Canadian film that is truly insane, a sort of psycho-sexual family drama that really is weird and awesome and messed-up – and I absolutely love it.”
People can be a bit sniffy about horror films. Does that annoy you?
“No, never. Because there’s a lot of different reasons people watch horror films, and I think all of them are valid. You know, if you’re watching it because you want to watch something fun, you want to watch something ‘spookhouse’ – I think that’s great. And at the same time, if you’re watching something because you find it stimulating and evocative and intellectually exciting, that’s valid too. I grew up with things like punk rock and metal, and those things aren’t considered to be lofty art forms in certain ways either, but they are in others.”
There can be quite an unfortunate misogynistic undertone to some horror films. Do you have to be careful that what you put on Shudder lives up to modern sensibilities? Or do you see these sort of things as artefacts from the past?
“A little bit of both. I think we’re definitely considerate of how things clash with modern sensibilities, and rightfully so, because you have to consider the perspective of the movie versus the perspective of the filmmaker, and what they are and are not endorsing. There are movies absolutely that came from a very exploitation-y, tasteless perspective and sometimes that’s fun, sometimes that’s just kind of weird and gross and silly, and sometimes it’s hurtful. There’s a slasher called Hide And Go Shriek that I think is worth considering in the terms of what it is and its place in cinema, but it is a film that has not amazing views on the trans community, just by virtue of what is going on in the movie. We do put custom synopses on our films that’s considerate of what the movie is, not in a disclaimer way, but in a historically contextual way: this is the era of this film, this is where this film is coming from, and maybe you should be wary of that.”
American Horror Story is one of the biggest shows on TV. Are you a fan of it?
“It sort of differs season to season, you know? I haven’t caught up yet with the newest season, but it seems like it’s going in some directions that are directly up my alley. I’ve always been a big fan of sort of folk horror and witchcraft, and cultish work.”
Easy final question: what’s your favourite horror film?
“Maybe my favourite movie of all time is An American Werewolf In London, but Suspiria is close. And there’s a really, really, really great Mexican horror film called Alucarda, which is just so insane and bloody and occult, and I just love that movie. You can’t get much better than two women in a convent chanting about Satan and their devotion to him.”